Democrats play chicken with troops funding
The game of chicken has begun. All previous efforts to express dissatisfaction with the war mean nothing. The real political game is the Iraq supplemental. If it is vetoed or killed in the Senate, someone will be blamed: Republicans for stopping it or Democrats for connecting it to a troop withdrawal.Actually the course of the war will be determined by Gen. Petraeus and the troops as it should. The Democrats stab in the back of the military while they are in harms way should be remembered in 2008 when they are voted out of office. They have always been wrong in opposing this war and to the extent they think the public is backing them now because of dissatisfaction with the course of the war they are mistaken. Those polls make the mistake of conflating the people who want to fight a more effective war with those who want to lose. Pollsters have been doing this since Vietnam and it has been very costly for Democrats and will be again.
How the public assigns blame in these high-stakes confrontations is unpredictable....
But despite this wind of public opinion at their backs, Democrats cannot count on the public blaming Bush for failing to support the troops if he vetoes funding tied to a mandatory troop withdrawal. First, the House-passed supplemental is too cute; it gives with one hand and takes away with the other. It provides money for troops in the field, but begins to cut back these troops. The president’s position, while not overly popular, is more consistent and comprehensible — support the troops and give them what they need to win.
Second, some will charge that votes were bought with pork. Local projects are often inserted in broader legislation, but special projects look especially unseemly in an otherwise highly principled debate over national-security matters.
Third, Democratic divisions make opposing the president difficult. With a narrow majority and members on the right and left who might desert the coalition, Speaker Pelosi may have difficulty maneuvering in responding to President Bush.
In the end, Democrats are not likely to prevail against President Bush in a veto fight. After all of the political combat, the supplemental that will eventually pass into law will not have a definite date for withdrawal; it may have a recommended timetable, benchmarks, and words of disapproval, but it will not absolutely force the president’s hand.
Ultimately, the course of the war in Iraq will be determined more by the election results in November of 2008 than by the 2007 supplemental vote.